Whether you’re a first-time home buyer who just moved in, or you you’ve recently upgraded to a larger home to fit more family members, hosting Thanksgiving is probably the last thing on your mind. Like most homeowners after a big move, you probably just finished unpacking your boxes, or maybe you haven’t even gotten to that step yet! No matter where you’re at in this process, don’t stress. We’re here to help prepare you and your new home for the holiday season.
Read on to learn how you can make the first Thanksgiving in your new home one to remember!
#1 Plan Ahead
If we could only give you one tip to prepare for hosting the first Thanksgiving in your new home, it would be to plan ahead. Planning will help you avoid unnecessary stress and stay on top of everything. Instead of waiting until the last minute to complete your tasks, start now! Begin by inviting your guests and keeping track of the RSVPs. Next, make sure that everyone coming has a place to sit. If there’s not enough space around the dining table, feel free to set up an additional table. Just make sure you don’t wait until the last minute to figure out these important details!
#2 How To Plan The Menu
Planning the dinner menu might be the most central part of preparing Thanksgiving dinner. You want to avoid a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving dinner at all costs! Please don’t serve jelly beans, popcorn, or toast to your guests. Instead, stick to the classics and focus on turkey, mashed potatoes and pie.
Before you create your menu, there is an important question you have to ask yourself. Can I handle making everything on my own? If the answer is yes, that’s great. But if you hesitated or said no, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The stress of hosting Thanksgiving in your new home is enough; you don’t need to make it worse by making everything yourself. To lighten your load, feel free to make Thanksgiving dinner a potluck. Splitting up the menu and doing Thanksgiving dinner potluck style is common among many families. Just make sure to designate who brings what and keep track of it. But if coordinating a potluck is too stressful for you, you can even have your Thanksgiving dinner catered from a local restaurant. There is no shame in catering, and you will be guaranteed to have a good meal!
However, if you’re up for a challenge, cook dinner yourself! To help you plan the menu, start by seeing if any of your guests have allergies or dietary restrictions. Next, think about what dishes you might want to serve. To be cautious, stick to dishes you know, and make sure to keep it simple. If you’re unsure about what you want to serve, think about family traditions or dishes you always loved growing up. You can try to re-create Aunt Betty’s green bean casserole, or maybe start a new tradition!
You can also choose your dishes based off your guests and their preferences. If you’re expecting a big crowd, stick to dishes that feed many people like casseroles, macaroni and cheese, and sheet cake. If you want your Thanksgiving dinner to be more traditional, make sure to have turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry salad, yams and pie.
When hosting a casual Thanksgiving dinner, don’t go over the top with an assortment of fancy dishes, just keep it simple and make sure to include some of the staples.
Last but not least, don’t forget the drinks. This element of Thanksgiving dinner is often overlooked. Make sure to offer both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages to your guests. For an easy beverage for the kids, make hot spiced cider. You can also spike it for the adults by adding bourbon or rum.
#3 Grocery Shopping Tips
Grocery shopping in preparation for Thanksgiving can be a stressful task, but it’s not as daunting as you might think. Just make sure to plan ahead by making a detailed shopping list before you go to the grocery store. When compiling your list, look over every recipe and double check it just to be safe. To eliminate the risk of grocery stores selling out and to avoid a “Hunger Games”-style fight-to-the-death fiasco, make sure to grocery shop in advance. I would recommend going about 3 – 4 days before you begin your cooking. That way, you can start meal prepping right after your shopping trip.
#4 How To Plan Prep Time
If you’ve paid close attention to the other tips, you probably have a feeling of what I’m going to say about meal prep … plan ahead! Try to cook everything that you can ahead of time to avoid day-of panic and jitters. You might think that you can’t prepare food ahead of time or it will go bad, but there are actually many things you can do to help get ready for your big dinner.
Start by organizing your recipes and evaluating everything you need to make. Then, depending on what dishes you have, you can determine what items can be premade. Though there are some items like turkey that need to come fresh out of the oven, there are other dishes you can work on ahead of time. For example, you can chop up vegetables and get them ready to be steamed. You can also use a slow cooker to make casseroles, green beans, mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes ahead of time.
Your goal should be to have everything done ahead of time, and if it can’t be finished early, it should be prepped and ready to be put in the oven! You should start preparing and cooking everything 2 days before Thanksgiving. Wake up early on the holiday morning to make sure you’re on track, and everything will be cooked to perfection and ready on time.
#5 How To Set The Table
Setting the table for Thanksgiving dinner should be one of your smallest worries, and it can be done in advance. Find a good tablecloth that sets the mood and can act as a decoration. Make sure to find the best glassware, dishes and flatware you own, and count everything to ensure you have enough for each guest. To add to the decorative ambiance, use pretty napkins and a fall-inspired flower arrangement for the center of the table. If you’re feeling fancy, make place cards for your guests by putting their names on index cards or name tags on a pumpkin or gourd. This special touch will add meaning to your guests’ Thanksgiving holiday.
#6 Cleanup Tips
After indulging in good food and good company with your family and friends, it will be time to clean up all of your hard work. This is your final responsibility as a Thanksgiving dinner host. Feel free to have your friends and family members help out with this final stage, so you can enjoy their company when you’re done.
You can make cleanup easier by having people put their dishes in soapy water as they finish with them. This will allow the dishes to soak, making them easier to get clean in the dishwasher or by hand. You can also label the trash can and recycling bin, so your guests know how to properly dispose of their waste. My favorite cleanup hack is rolling up the tablecloth when everyone leaves and taking it outside and shaking it out. It’ll feel like a magic trick! Finally, be ready for people to have leftovers. Have Tupperware ready to grab, and go the extra mile by having bags and a labeling marker out, too. Your guests will quickly be able to take some more food off your hands and keep it organized.
Hopefully these tips will help you make hosting Thanksgiving in your new home something that will create positive, long-lasting memories. Don’t let the stress of the holidays get you down. Instead, remember what Thanksgiving is all about. Give thanks and enjoy time with your loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving!